WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, released the following statement today, about last night's ABC news special on Anchor/Reporter Bob Woodruff's recovery from injuries he suffered as a result of an insurgent roadside bomb attack in Iraq, and the plight of many U.S. war veterans suffering from similar traumatic brain injuries:
"Looking at these young soldiers with such devastating injuries, we are reminded of the true costs of war. We know that the transition from DoD to VA can be tough. And this is even more true for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries. At the start of this war, VA was wholly unprepared to deal with the number of servicemembers returning with horrific injuries of all kinds. The President's budget has underestimated these costs, and many VA facilities were caught off-guard.
"Over the last year, VA has made strides in improving the lead brain injury centers. But VA still has miles to go in caring for servicemembers when they return home. Many of these men and women are quite young and will be living with brain injuries for the rest of their lives. VA must do more than simply send them back to their communities. Wounded war veterans deserve to get the highest level of medical care possible, just like Mr. Woodruff has had in his road to recovery.
"Tomorrow, I will be meeting with VA Secretary Nicholson and I will raise my strong concern about meeting the needs of veterans with brain injuries. As Chairman of the Committee, I will be asking the Congress to approve a $300 million increase for improved brain injury care in VA," Akaka said.
February 28, 2007